Four seasons in a day at Peterhead

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little there – we didn’t get snow and we didn’t get a heatwave.  But we did get pretty much everything else, from flat grey skies to pouring rain, and then when that cleared, sunshine and a gale force wind.

Interestingly, it was quite a choppy trip down from Lerwick overnight but this time the ship behaved itself.  Given that we saw open hatches in the hull during our stop the previous day, we’re thinking the crew took the opportunity to make some fairly hefty mechanical repairs to the ship, the thrusters, the stabilisers, and possibly even the heating/air conditioning, which didn’t seem to have been working properly before that.  Thank heavens for a much more comfortable night’s sailing; what a pity they left it to almost the end of the holiday before fixing things.

Peterhead is a nice old fishing town with impressive docks, some interesting old harbour buildings, and quite possibly the world’s smallest museum!  The ship moored up at an industrial harbour just outside the town, but there was a regular shuttle bus service back and forth to the centre which avoided a two-mile hike.

First stop was a café for coffee; the ship was devoid of decaff so I’d been drinking tea all week and was desperate for a coffee… any coffee…  and very nice it was too.  I felt rather like the old adverts for the Bisto kids.  Aaaah!

By the time we’d emerged again the rain had arrived so we had a quick wander round then headed for the Arbuthnot Museum.  Our cruise literature had mentioned this as being a fascinating, in-depth look at the town’s history, the fishing trade, whaling, and goodness knows what else, so we were expecting something at least the same size as Lerwick.  What a difference!  For starters it was balanced above the town’s library.  Then it turned out to be not much more than one room, with a gallery of paintings to one side.  It was interesting, with some unusual exhibits (pretty Inuit whalebone carvings, a stuffed musk ox…) but it was very, very small and even poring over the displays only took us around fifteen minutes.  So we headed back outdoors again.

By now it wasn’t just pouring, it was absolutely hammering down, with the sort of rain that bounces six inches off the pavements and soaks you to the skin.  And the wind was getting up.  We mooched around some more, explored the main harbour/fishing port area (neatly avoiding two huge seagulls fighting over a dead frog), and then found a Wetherspoons pub where we dripped, squelched, and wrapped ourselves around a chilli nachos platter to share.  And it just shows how poor the food on the ship was when I say that that was easily the best meal we’d had all week.

The rain gradually eased off and the skies brightened, but by now the wind was so strong it was blowing the camera off the level in my hand, so I couldn’t take as many photos as I’d have liked.  We tramped over to the bay on the other side of the spit that Peterhead is situated on, stared at the lashing waves, and then caught the shuttle bus back to the ship to start our packing.

Overall, the cruise was a disappointment, especially given how much we’d paid for it.  Locations, excursions and on-board lectures got a nine out of ten.  The ship, about two.  We’d happily travel with National Trust for Scotland again sometime, but we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled and won’t be setting foot on the MV Berlin.

Pictures this time include a couple of nice statues hidden around the town, and an amusing cake in the local baker’s front window!

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